The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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Question of the Week: 34 - 3/26/2001
What Are Your Views on Abortion, Euthanasia and Suicide?
What are your personal views on the issue of abortion, euthanasia and suicide? Do you consider these as individual and personal decisions or are they moral, religious or ethical 'crimes'? Does society-or the majority view (religious or otherwise) have the right to 'regulate' such actions or does the individual have the personal 'right' to decide whether to have an abortion or take their own life through euthanasia r suicide? CAUTION: These topics are very emotionally charged ones. Please do not attack or respond directly to another's posting, but rather simply state your own opinion on the matter. Anyone who wishes to debate the topics further via email with others can state so in his/her posting. Postings directly attacking another individual will be removed.
| Reponses: There are 95 responses posted to this question.
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| I Feel The Need To Address Some Issues Related To These Topics... ||Apr 1st. at 5:44:24 am EDT|
|Black Kat (Anytown, Oregon US) ||Age: 46 |
I feel the need to address some issues related to these topics which seem not to have been covered.
It seems to me that the Right Wing has convinced some people that "choice" is somehow evil or immoral. My personal feelings are very much in harmony with a statement that Starhawk made regarding abortion. She said that the issue is not about the right to life versus the right to choose. It is about the right to cooerce. Some people seem to believe that their personal beliefs/choices about religion gives them the right to cooerce the rest of us into goose-stepping according to their dictates.
I am dismayed by all the comments from people who assume that women use abortion as birth control are selfish. Is choosing to not breed truely so terribly selfish? I would vehemently disagree! I think the kindest, most generous thing we could do to improve life for all of us on this seriously overburdoned planet (not to mention for the next 7 generations of humans to come) would to encourage as many of us as possible to not breed, or to at least reduce our population level by half (gently and benignly, of course!).
To me, a world packed wall to wall with people, like sardines in a can, is not kinder and gentler. Quite the opposite, in fact. Giving the future generations a world with life support systems that function (clean air and water, healthy soil, etc.) seems far kinder than bringing in another human who will need to be fed, sheltered, clothed, and so on. I also strongly believe that humans need to learn to fairly and equitably share this planet with the other life forms who are here with us. Our mushrooming over-population destroys the habitats (read that as the homes and food supplies folks) of other living creatures. I believe these beings are just as much loved by the Goddess and Her Consort as we are!
This is a hot topic. I can see that I've gotten a bit steamed, here.
I guess it boils down to what you believe. I think we were given the ability to choose. If choosing was not o.k, then we would not have been given brains to think with. We would've come already programmed...and then there wouldn't be much point in being here anyway. Choice is the gift of the Old Ones, and it appears They are not going to take it away any time soon, not even if it looks like we are going to destroy ourselves and take much of the life on this beautiful Earth with us. Like the Witch's athame or sword, choice is double-edged. Therefore, it behooves us to use it carefully, but I am NOT in favor of doing away with it, nor letting other people put THEIR religion/beliefs on my body or life!
I would ask those who assume that women who chose abortion are selfish and careless to please reconsider. As many have pointed out, birth control is not 100% guaranteed, and there can be perfectly valid reasons for ending a pregnancy besides not wanting to be "inconvenienced". Also I would ask those people why the fetus' welfare is considered so much more important than that of the living adult woman? Are women who have sex but don't want to have babies truely so selfish? I think that those ideas come from religions which have contempt for both women and sex.
Regarding suicide and euthanasia. Again, we bump up against the issue of choice. I would not want my words to be used to help some desparate person push themselves into making any drastic moves with possibly poorly thought out consequences. I am all for helping those in distress in any way we can. But I will not pass judgement on those who decide to use those options. Like others, I had a relative die a most painful and horrible death from cancer. I would prefer to be euthanized instead of enduring the agony he experienced. As for suicide, there was a time in which I seriously considered ending my life. This may sound crazy, but it was the voice of Mother Earth that kept me here. Speaking from below my toes, she told me that no matter how hopeless my life looked, my problems had a specific beginning in time, and that a solution would eventually be found. And I remembered something I had learned during a health class in high school: people commit suicide because they belive that their circumstances can never, ever get better. I wasn't involved in witchcraft at that time, but I'm glad I listened to Ma Earth, because now I know that the one certainty in life is change!
I close with a plea for religious freedom, and the continued right to choose.
Bright Blessings to all.
| Greetings All, This Is The First Time That I Have Felt Prompted... ||Mar 31st. at 11:59:35 pm EST|
|Fay (Parkman, Maine US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
This is the first time that I have felt prompted to respond to a question posed here, and as you have noted it certainly is a very emotionally charged question for most of us.
Being a woman I can give birth. I fpersonally feel that this is a most sacred gift of the goddess.
In years past, I have had moments when i thought that i might be pregnant. Moments that, because of my own deception/dishonor to my marriage partner at that time, I considered the "probability" that i would get an abortion rather than face the honesty of my shameful behavior towards my mate. I look back now, and I KNOW that I was weak and selfish to consider myself, and not the possibility of a new life that I could have been the co-creator of in this lifetime.
I used to believe that women should have the "right" to chose wether or not they would give birth to a child.
I have alterd my belief, and I believe that women have the right to participate in a sacred act, that in itself is full of creation and the possibility of bringing a new spirit into this world. I believe that we also have the responsibility to refrain from participating in an act of creation if we are not willing to bear the fruit. Creation is an awesome and magical gift, if we have been given such a gift, surely we can find the strength of character to bring fortha life we have created wether or not we may be the one(s) to raise and nurture that life.
As for suicide...I like many have been to the depths of despair and have very seriously contemplated this "avenue" of escape. I tend to think on things long and deep, and though I desperately wished to justify my intentions, I came to realize that "escape" was all that I was thinking about. The strength of character that I needed to develop was staring me in the face and daring me to be stronger than that. Could I be that weak, that selfish, that I would put my children, friends, family into a desperate and lonely time of asking "why". Forever wondering if THEY may have been the cause for my suicide? I came to a realization that suicide is a weak and truly selfish act, something that i could not put those who loved and beleived in me through.
Let me say here that, although I feel this way, I understand that by their very nature, teenagers are very "self" focused, and do not necessarily mean to be selfish when they attempt or succeed with suicide. They are young people in deep turmoil, who may really see no other way out, because they haven't yet had the wisdom of years to teach them of their inherent worth. I know that it is often hard enough for an aged one to feel that their life has value. But, it may well be that last afternoon spent talking with someone in a check out line or the mother or father we gave encouragement to as they stressed out with a three year old, that could be a transformative gift to the recipient of your moment of compassion. If you are not there at those seemingly "little" moments. If you have "opted out" because it all seemed like too musch for you or you felt useless...you are leaving a piece of the web unspun. There will be a break in the spiral that YOU were meant to fill, and it DOES matter.
Well, I suppose this may be too verbose and seemingly judgemental, but i do not mean it as a judgement to others, just thoughts to consider, I have taken much time to consider these topics myself, and I am at peace in my spirit.
blessed be, Fay
| Death Is One Thing We All Share. Abortion - It's Purely Personal Choice... ||Mar 31st. at 11:18:51 pm EST|
|Jacs "Lil'G" E-Mc (Raglan, New Zealand) ||Age: 18 |
Death is one thing we all share.
Abortion - it's purely personal choice. I do not like the fact that people have used abortion as contraception, but it's their choice. Personally, i feel that abortion should be legal for rape, incest, and danger to the mother. Not making other reason illegal.....but almost like a 'no questions asked'. I'll be there for any one who decides that abortion is their choice, or if keeping the baby is there choice. Partial birth abortions i do not condone.......as the embryo becomes a fetus/baby at 12 - 13 weeks......most abortions are done BEFORE this time.
Euthanaisa - if i was terminally ill, and wanted to end the suffering......no-one will take that right away from me. We put animals down when they are suffering.....why can we not treat our human companions in the same way? Why prolong a person's suffering when they wish it to end? And the 'harm none' law.......is it not more harmful to a person, to suffer for the rest of their lifes, than to end their suffering?
Suicide - having been suicidal on and off for about 7 years....i'm divided on the issue. It's not a good choice, but a choice none-the-less. The act in itself may be selfish....but the life lived before the suicide is most probably lacking in selfishness.....people, like myself, are living because other people want them to....no matter what the pain...other people want me and others here.......therefore, living in spite of the pain....FOR other people....but hey.....it's a personal choice....not one i'd recommend...but it's a personal choice.
| I'll Start With The Easiest, Abortion. Woman's Body, Woman's Choice. If You... ||Mar 31st. at 11:07:13 pm EST|
|kaelyn Traveler (Sacramento, California US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I'll start with the easiest, Abortion. Woman's body, woman's choice. If you don't want one, don't have one. If we want to reduce the number of abortions in this country, we need better reproductive education. The 2 countries in the world with the lowest percentage of teen pregnancies are Canada, and Holland, @ 6% and 9% respectively. These figures include young women who marry at 18 and have babies before 20. Guess what, both countries begin reproductive education at age 6. My mother did with me, and I've always had a very strong image that I had better make sure I can deal with a child before taking the risk of becoming pregnant. Yet even the best birth control sometimes fails, and we must have the right to control our own bodies. I believe that someone being able to force you to carry and bear a child you don't want, even for the "altruistic" purpose of giving it to someone who wants it, is nothing short of slavery. Slavery was outlawed by the 13Th amendment. This actually happened to a girl I went to school with, at fifteen years old. The father's parents actualy took her & her mother to court to get an injunction against abortion. They won. This fifteen year old, very petite girl was forced to carry a bear a child she did not want.
Euthanasia: There are sound arguments on both sides. I must side with individual choice, but if the person's capacity is in question, the only people there are left to ask are the relatives. Unfortunately, families don't necessarily follow your wishes. Whether it's motivated by greed, fear, misunderstanding, or the sheer arrogance of "knowing what's best for you" it makes life very difficult for everyone involved. Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities now require that you make a living will that gives very clear instructions on what to do, what not to do, and under what circumstances in an emergencey situaion. They want this done by the prospective patient rather than their relatives if at all possible. Many patients' fodlers have DNR (do not rescuitate) in bright red.
Suicide: For me, from harrowing personal experience, these two go hand in hand. Please pardon the length I'm about to go to. I dated a man who had a history of mental illness. Depression ran heavy on both sides of his family, as did the substance abuse that often goes with it. A person in this much emotional pain will do almost anything to disguise and esacape it, even when they know it's bad for them. He never recieved medication until his 3rd suicide attempt when some bright psychiatrist ordered a simple blood test. Mind you, this blod test had been around for 25 years. Why no one ran it before is a mystery. The blood test showed some very easily correctable chemical imbalances. He went on a class of medications called tricyclics. These have been around since the 30's, we understand them pretty well. He was clean, sober, and much happier. Suicide was as far from his mindset as it could get.
80% of suicides suffer from some form of mental illness. Some is temporary, like what many of us experience during puberty and early adolescence, some of it is directly related to deep personal loss, others to onging brain chemisrty imbalances, but much of it is treatable.
Back to the story. He felt ill at work one day went to see the nurse. She took his pulse and had him airlifted to the closest hospital. It was 240/minute. For the three hours they tried to get it down. It could easily have killed him. In the end, they had to cardiovert him. (electric shock paddles) What happened? He has a conductive heart defect no one knew about. Tricyclics have cardiac side effects, he takes them again, he's dead. At this time prozac was being prescribed left & right, everybody called it a wonder drug. It didn't work as well as the tricyclics, but it wouldn't kill him either. It kept him funtional and reasonably happy. At this point I met him. He had 4 years clean and sober, everything looked great, and he told me about his past. What science was just finding out, is that the brain has at least 4 separate ways of compensating for altered chemistry of the long life drugs like prozac. After a while they just slowly stop working. The brain doesn't compensate for tricyclics, because the half life is too short. Unfortunately, his effective time with prozac was ending. The problem is, we didn't know it.
He lost his mother, grandmother, and best dog in a 4 month period of time. That's enough to depress anybody. This is where the family motives issue ones in. The grandmother was a fighter. Fought cancer every inch of the way for 15 years. The mother was not. She made everyone in the family PROMISE her that when her time came, they would not let her drag out in pain and misery. The hospital finally sent her home to die, and assured the family that it would be quick, easy, and painless. It wasn't. When she was finally close, they cut her feed rate in half, and dragged her pain and suffering out for another 4 days. The doctor's comment when asked why he did this? "I'm not Kevorikian". Certain members of her family stayed right at her bedside, doing their best to hold her there, to get her to fight, in spite of their earlier promises to her. The woman was in serious pain, morphine had little effect, and no one had the courage to do what they had promised her. She only asked that there be no heroics, once I can no longer see, speak or express my wants clearly, or I go into coma, pull the plug. No one helped her. Had she been capable, she sould have ended her own life. My boyfriend and I were appalled at the way the family handled her requests for treatment, and its cessation, and as soon as we came home, we wrote out living wills, and powers of attorney on each other & registered them with the state. We knew his family would not honor his wishes. By now his depression was in full swing. He had 3 suicide attempts in 4 months. I was the only person he could talk to. The emotinal pain he was in was unreal, yet he was terrified of Death. He didn't so much want to die, as to stop the enormous amount of emotional pain. If stopping the pain meant he died, that was fine with him. His family refused to understand. He tried numerous other medications, even got into some experimental medical studies. The only drugs that worked were ones with ingreidients that have known cardiac side effects. even at one quarter regular dose, they almost killed him again. So, should he die by his own hand, or by the only drugs that would let him function? He's now a permanent guest on suicide watch in a locked down psych ward.
These people who say that checking out is a cowards way out have never had to deal with this kind of pain. They say, "Oh but's it's so selfish, they think nothing of the people they leave behind". I think it's selfish to ask them to stay. They know it will hurt those they leave, but they can't bear to stay. Everybody's pretty clear that someone in unbearable physical pain should be allowed to leave. But for some reason they don't feel the same way about emotional agony. People assume that these people are capable of "just taking it", that it will all eventually get better. I have news for you, when you're that chemmically depressed, nothing anyone says will make anything any better. You hurt because you can't live up to what they want, and you can't deal with your own emotions, much less anyone else's intolerance. There is no "light at the end of the tunnel". The only thing you know is that you are standing in the middle of the track, it's pitch black, and the only thing you can feel or hear is that oncoming frieght train, and you can't move. How can you ask someone you love to live with that kind of fear & agony, knowing that anything that will make them happy will kill them? To me that's what's selfish. This is the only man I would ever have married.
So, given what I know from both sides of the coin, what would I do today? The first thing I would suggest, is that if you're having a blue streak that lasts longer than a month, or in the case of a lost loved one, longer than three with no improvement, get yourself to a doctor for a blood test. Sometimes your body just needs a kick start to remind it what it should be producing. If someone has tried medications to no avail, and still chooses to check out, I must support their decision. Will they have more "karmic homework" ? Possibly, but I feel that's passing judgement. What if they came around this time to learn when to give up?
The one other thing that I will ask everyone to do, PLEASE make out a living will. This way your own personal wishes are clear, and if your state is one of those that registers these, by all means do it. This means your medical decisions are in your hands, not the whim of relatives who may not respect you, your lifestyle or your wishes, or worse yet, people who know nothing of your beliefs and desires. If it's registered, the state, and the medical facilities have to abide by it.
I apologize for the length, but I really felt this needed to be brought to light. If we have the "inalienable right to life liberty and the pursuit of ahppiness", we should also have the right to choose our death; without undue interference from people who know little or nothing about us. Life & death are both essential, both sacred. You can't have one without the other. Very little about them, much less the rest of our lives is black and white.
| Suicide And Euthanasia (i Think) Should Be Avoided Except For The Extreme... ||Mar 31st. at 8:21:34 pm EST|
|Jenny (Eastlake, Ohio US) ||Age: 17 |
Suicide and Euthanasia (I think) should be avoided except for the extreme cases of suffering with a terminal illness or the like. Abortion is a bit different though. I know that many abortions take place because of the irresposibility of a person or a couple, and that is wrong. When there are so many ways to prevent pregnancy (i.e.- Birth control, condoms, the morning-after pill) it is sad to know that many people do not use them. Yet there are situations where a condom broke, a girl was raped, etc. where abortion is an important choice. I feel that abortion is a personal, private choice that should not be taken away. I would rather see abortion legal for all (including those who abuse life selfishly) than to see abortion banned for all (including those with uncontrolably, unfortunate circumstances) Personally, I hope that I will never have to face the possibility of abortion, but, if I had to, I would like to have that option open to me anyway.
| Well I'm A Guy So I Don't Think I Can't Say That... ||Mar 31st. at 8:15:39 pm EST|
|Jerry (Kalamazoo, Michigan US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
Well I'm a guy so i don't think i can't say that much on the abortion issue. That is somthing that the woman will have to live with for the rest of their lives. I think that women should have the right to choose what they want going on their bodies but I will never have to feel what ever it is a woman feels over abortion. As far as suicide goes, I personaly think that it is up to the person. No one has the right to tell anyone when and if they can die by their own hands. It is not for society to decide.
| These Are Tricky Issues. I've Dealt With All Three On A Personal... ||Mar 31st. at 7:32:19 pm EST|
|Wendy B. (Shreveport, Louisiana US) ||Age: 33 |
These are tricky issues. I've dealt with all three on a personal level, and so have given them considerable thought. My husand is a psychiatrist, so I usually think of suicide as something that issues from mental illness and should be prevented, except in the case of a person who has a terminal illness and is choosing to die with dignity while s/he is still capable of doing the job without dragging in a helper (which seems to me to be a weak and selfish thing to do to a loved-one -- ask them to kill you, that is). Euthanasia I think should be avoided, except insofar as it can be accomplished simply by withholding extreme care. I think starving or dehydrating a person who is still drawing breath on their own is cruel. We don't know what they might experience, so unless their wishes were made clear while they were of sound mind, I don't think we have the right to make that decision for them. And abortion is the hardest: it's by grace, not virtue, that I never had to make that choice, and I am ever thankful that I never did. I don't think I could live with myself having terminated my own offspring. Yet there are certainly cases where I can imagine being thankful for having the choice to do it safely.
| I Do Not Believe That Euthanasia Or Suicide Is Proper Or Ethical... ||Mar 31st. at 6:32:13 pm EST|
|Ron Parker (Independence, Missouri US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
I do not believe that Euthanasia or Suicide is proper or ethical. Life is a rare gift given by the Gods and should be treated as such. As far as Abortion, I do not believe in the use of it as a form of birth control. However, the ultimate discision on abortion is and should be left to the woman as it is her body.
| Abortion Is Something Only The Person Carring The Fetus Can Decide On... ||Mar 31st. at 2:59:06 pm EST|
|Rev. Ruby Mann (Jackson, Michigan US) ||Age: 54 - Email |
Abortion is something only the person carring the fetus can decide on. I think every woman should have that right to decide. They should be legal and those that have an abortion should have counseling suggested to them to cope with the situation.
Euthanasia: I would like to die with dignity. If this must happen via a drug overdose given me by my doctor or loved ones so be it. I do not consider it murder but do consider making a person reamin "alive" while in pain and suffering to be curel and unhumane punishment. This would have to be a decision made before the need arisies while the patient is in a good mental state.
Suicide: this subject is difficult for me because I have seen the effects of a teen suicide on his family and friends. Done in a fit of anger or deep depression, it must be the only way the person can see to escape from his/her problems. Not realizing how many problems they are creating for those they leave behind with no answers to the questions. it should not be a spiritual matter, rather a medical or psychological one.
The first thing that always comes to my mind is "cowards way out". Could they not try to find the answers to their problems in another way? What drives them to destroy themselves? Are they cowards or heros? I have so many questions when it comes to suicide.
| On Abortion, I Can Only Say That It A Purly Individual Choice... ||Mar 31st. at 9:50:39 am EST|
|Moonhawk Elfchild (Owego, New York US) ||Age: 46 - Email |
On abortion, I can only say that it a purly individual choice. I don't think that it can, or should be regulated in any way. I don't like the thought of it being used as a form of birth control, there are simpler and less painful ways, and also think that both parties should be involved, unless the situation dictates otherwise. Euthinasia, also, is a peraonal choice. Each of us should be able to determine when the pain of illness becomes to much to bear. I, myself have a no execptional measure clause in a living will. If I'm going to die anyway, let me do so with dignity and honor.
Suicide is a bit more complicated. It is the final act of desperation. Many who contemplate suicide are being self-centered, whether they realize it or not, and never take into consideration the pain, doubt, and lingering questions they leave behind as a legacy to everyone who loves them. I have had a friend commit suicide and, even though it happened many years ago, my thoughts are still haunted by the pain and unanswered questions. There is also a measure of personal guilt that never goes away. With all of the help that is readily available, it should be preventable. I truely wish that those who contmplate suicide would first seek the help they need.
| Abortion (imho) Is A Far Separate Issue From Euthanasia & Suicide, And I... ||Mar 31st. at 4:04:20 am EST|
|Nion (Tacoma, Washington US) ||Age: 41 |
Abortion (IMHO) is a far separate issue from euthanasia & suicide, and I will address it as such. I must make a stand on the side of "CHOICE" where legal regulation must be involved and I believe the over-riding public health concern should be in making abortion both less desirable and less necessary. This end can only be accomplished through proper reproductive (note I don't call it 'sex') education with full knowledge and availability of preventive tools and techniques and alternatives such as good maternal health care and access to adoption without stigma. I cannot take seriously any anti-abortion argument that declines to first address these issues before attempting to further restrict and stigmatize women of childbearing capacity.
Euthanasia and suicide have some vague overlaps. My being a nurse who works in extended care w/the elderly and chronically ill, as well as having worked in a psychiatric hospital gives me a view of both.
I find myself much more concerned over euthanasia and end of life issues.
Euthanasia is far from a one point issue, and tends to be a hot-button word, automatically associated with so-called "mercy killing".
The actual meaning comes from two words in Greek: "EU" meaning well or good and "THANOS" meaning death. Properly addressing the needs and comfort of those facing the end of life may eliminate much percieved need for active Euthanasia a la the Hemlock Society. I find myself believing more and more that any person who purports the Wiccan Rede or other similar statement, needs to look at the business of end-life through the lens of the Rede. Too often I see individuals and families agonizing through making decisions that the individual should have already put into some written form. CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation)and Life-support are the first two, and they are quite separate issues from both medical and legal standpoints. To _harm_none_, it is vital to address in the case of an individual seeking "Eu Thanos" or "Good Death".
The third thing to address is adequate pain relief. People in severe pain don't much care to eat & drink adequately, and can't properly rest. These combine to make the person more uncomfortable and exacerbates the problem in a downward spiral of misery. Modern medicine is revamping it's standards on pain treatment and there has been at least one successful malpractice suit for
under-treatment of pain in a terminal individual of which I am aware.
If you are a decision maker for anyone in end-life, _harm_none_ and ensure they recieve adequate treatment.
| Suicide Is A Person Making Their Own Decision About Their Life Without... ||Mar 31st. at 2:11:18 am EST|
|IvyDancing (West Palm Beach, Florida US) ||Age: 49 - Email |
Suicide is a person making their own decision about their life without direct physical affect upon another. It's OK in my opinion. Abortion during the first trimester, before a spirit has inhabited the foetus, is probably OK too. Second and third trimester abortions are probably wrong. Euthanasia is wrong. But not using extreme measures to prolong life like breathing machines, etc., is OK, provided the wishes of the person are being followed. Physical life is a gift of the Gods. We shouldn't waste a moment of it. But once it's over, it's time for the spirit to move on.
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